The Circuit Spa-Francorchamps is another track on the iRacing.com Grand Prix Legends calendar that was actually hosted a race during the 1967 Formula One season, although the layout was much different back then. La Source and Eau Rouge were similar, as were Blanchimont and the Kemmel straight. The major differences came once you hit the modern day track’s Les Combes where, instead of turning right, drivers of old turned left and traversed what amounts to a high-speed Belgian back road. Today’s modern version of this classic circuit has become has legendary as the original, and provided some of the best racing across multiple series the world has ever seen.
Over a dozen GPL sim-racers lined-up on the grid after La Source with Michel Dudognon sitting on pole position with a qualifying time just four hundredths of a second faster than Mick Claridge in second place. Behind them came Brendan Scullion, Duncan Coppedge and Berke Yalci rounding out the top five. Yalci got the best start of all and overtook Coppedge before reaching Eau Rouge, and gained valuable time to the top three ahead. At 180mph the braking point at the end of the Kemmel straight is somewhere around 200 meters for this car when running with heavy fuel, James Stone in P10 missed that point by about 40 or 50 meters, went very deep into Les Combes and made contact with Cesare Piccolo. Both sim-racers went off the track but damage seemed to be at a minimum when Piccolo re-entered the track.
What Piccolo seemed to miss was Elias McQueen who was already at the inside of Turn Seven (Malmedy). Piccolo took the corner at full speed and aimed for the apex; but when the extra-large tires of McQueen’s Lotus 49 came into contact with those of Piccolo it launched the right side of his car high into the air and eventually into the barrier. Again, Piccolo’s damage wasn’t terminal but when he attempted to navigate the remainder of the lap he was thrown violently off the track at the exit of Pouhon and was forced to retire.
A bit later that lap and a poor exit through Curve Paul Frere put Yalci on the defensive from Coppedge who took to the outside at Blanchimont at nearly 120mph. Yalci was forced to let off the throttle as a result of the overtake and was promptly overtaken once again by Scott Spahr who took advantage of the situation and moved up into fifth place before entering the Bus Stop chicane.
At the front, Dudognon was maintaining his gap to Claridge, but just barely. Only a second or two separated the pair, as they pulled away from Scullion who just didn’t seem to have the pace to stick with them, but who also seemed to have no problems gapping the rest of the pack. Meanwhile, on Lap Three, McQueen was up to P10 after the first lap shenanigans, but was still having a hard time coming to grips with the car at this classic track. At the end of the lap he got some oversteer into La Source and lost his top ten position to Stone who seemed to be having an easier time after his first lap as well.
On Lap Four Andrew Eng was getting very close to Glenn Dyson for P8, and when Dyson went deep into Turn 12 it seemed like a blessing from above. Eng pushed hard through the corner and ended up with a snap of oversteer which put his rear right tire into the grass and spun him completely around, losing him valuable time to his target.
Later that same lap it was leader Dudognon who had a spin of his own. Heading into the Bus Stop at 160mph, Dudognon braked late as he had done the previous laps, but when the rear tires lost traction there was little he could do to correct the car. His Lotus 49 spun 90 degrees to the right as he was approaching the left-hand part of the chicane, costing him the lead of the race and also a few seconds of time to Claridge.
A couple laps later and Eng had not only caught-up to Dyson but was once again within striking distance. Dyson struggled through the Curve with No Name, affording Eng the opportunity to grab the inside line heading into Pouhon where late braking prevailed and Eng took eighth spot at about the halfway point of the race. Eng once again, however, struggled through Turn 12 and lost the position only a handful of seconds later.
A lap later and the battle for the lead was on once again as Dudognon pulled alongside Claridge down the Kemmel straight. The two of them went side-by-side into Les Combs as they turned right, then left, with Claridge on the right. Claridge had a difficult time keeping alongside as they turned left, but he managed it well. As they turned right for Malmedy it was Claridge who lost traction from the inside line and was overtaken finally after what seemed like the three longest corners known to man.
Not long after Dudognon’s spectacular overtake on Claridge the battle behind between Eng and Dyson was about to come to a close as Dyson picked-up some oversteer out of Eau Rouge through Raidillon and was sent left, into the barrier, and out of the race.
As the checkered flag fell it was Dudognon winning by over three seconds from Claridge who made a mistake or two after losing the lead. They earned 114 and 105 points respectively for their efforts, but wouldn’t need it as they both scored more in a different race that week. Scullion took home 97 points for his quiet third place, Coppedge earned 89, and Spahr grabbed 81 (enough for 8th, 10th, and 14th for the week).